Born: February 14, 1882 - Podgórze, Poland
Died: January 26, 1948 - Sydney, Australia
Ignaz Friedman (also spelled Ignace or Ignacy) was a Polish pianist and composer famous for his Chopin interpretations.
The son of a musician in Krakow, Ignaz Friedman was one of the most highly regarded virtuoso pianists of his time. A child prodigy, he studied with Theodor Leschetizky. His official début in Vienna in 1904 featured a program of three piano concertos and several encores, rivalling the similar programs of established titans like Ferruccio Busoni and Leopold Godowsky, and he remained a titan throughout his career. His style was quiet and effortless, imbued with a sense of rhythm and color, grounded in a sovereign technique, and much has been written about his peerless interpretations of Chopin in particular. He was also known for "Friedman moments" in his interpretations where he might double bass notes, fill in chords, extend passagework, and add ornamentation though always with an aristocratic sense of style.
Ignaz Friedman's recordings of Chopin Mazurkas are particularly admired, matched perhaps only by the Mazurka recordings of Moritz Rosenthal. During his lifetime his playing was admired, but considered secondary compared to the other virtuosos then playing the concert circuit and he often received lukewarm reviews, especially in the USA, where critics found his playing mannered. At the outbreak of World War II Freidman was on a concert tour in Australia and, unable to return to Europe, remained there until his death. Partial paralysis of his left hand forced him to retire from the concert platform in 1943.
Ignaz Friedman estimated that he had given over 2,800 concerts in his life. His many recordings are admired and loved. Like most of the great artists of his time who broadcast, much of his recorded material has been lost, including hours of radio recordings made in Australia and New Zealand. His place in the pantheon of great pianists of the twentieth century is assured.
Ignaz Friedman composed more than ninety works, mainly piano miniatures, but also pieces for cello and a piano quintet. His compositions are superior to those of most other virtuoso pianists of his time, but have not found a niche in the repertory. He arranged many works, especially those of J.S. Bach and Domenico Scarlatti. He also edited the complete works of Chopin and produced editions of Schumann and Liszt, as did his colleagues Harold Bauer and Alfred Cortot.